From the author of the international best-selling Tudor Trilogy:
Handsome, charismatic and a champion jouster, Sir Charles Brandon is the epitome of a Tudor Knight. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Brandon has a secret. He has fallen in love with Henry’s sister, Mary Tudor, the beautiful widowed Queen of France, and risks everything to marry her without the King’s consent.
Brandon becomes Duke of Suffolk, but his loyalty is tested fighting Henry’s wars in France. Mary’s public support for Queen Catherine of Aragon brings Brandon into dangerous conflict with the ambitious Boleyn family and the king’s new right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell.
Torn between duty to his family and loyalty to the king, Brandon faces an impossible decision: can he accept Anne Boleyn as his new queen?
This was, as I've already mentioned, my first novel about Charles Brandon. He's an interesting Tudor figure - being at the center of Henry VIII's court from very early on in his reign. Athletic, handsome, powerful... he's the ideal Tudor hero. He even dips into a bit of scandal by marrying the king's sister, Princess Mary Tudor, without permission. Naturally, he's a great main character for focus a story around, and I think Tony Riches did a great job with this book. I enjoyed seeing the softer, romantic side of Brandon, through his marriages and fatherhood. His relationship with Henry VIII shed some light into the softer side of Henry, as well - which is always refreshing.
This story spans the last years of Henry VII's reign, through the death of Henry VIII's third queen, Jane Seymour. Through it, we see Charles Brandon's rise to prominence and glory at his close friend's court. We witness his first, then second marriage, and the other relationships he formed among gentlemen and ladies at court. We go through the tumultuous religious upheavals of the 1530s, and Charles' compassion for and loyalty to Henry's first wife, Katherine of Aragon. We experience the heartbreaks that Charles experiences in his personal life, and the joys and triumphs he finds in his professional life. All in all, this is an all-encompassing story of Charles' "prime years" (if you will). Tony's writing as engaging and filled with enough emotion to help me connect with the characters. Overall, I'd definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys Tudor fiction - especially centered around some of the lesser-known, less-often-written-about, figures.
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